I have always loved water. I don’t mean the water that you drink; although that is more of a necessity than anything else. No, what I mean is that I love to be around bodies of water; love to wade in it, swim in it. Love to simply be next to a lake or ocean … or even just sitting poolside at whatever community place.
That’s why it’s ironic — or simply comical — that, at the tender age of eight, I almost drowned. This incident took place after one of my beginners swim lessons, in which we were rewarded with ten minutes of open swim. I had stood in line for the second time that session; waiting to jump off the diving board. When my turn came up, I sprang off the board and dove head first into the deep end. Nothing unusual, as I was always fearless when it came to diving.
This time, however; I found myself disoriented and unable to determine which end of the pool was up. Despite this, I did not panic. In fact, I actually remember feeling incredibly calm. So calm, in fact, that the swim instructors didn’t realize I was missing until the mandatory headcount in the shower at the end of open swim. It’s a good thing that all this happened in under two minutes.
I can recall being hooked in by one swim instructor, while another jumped in to help me up. Once poolside, they apparently performed mouth-to-mouth on me. Except the only thing I can clearly recall is being placed on my side and coughing up water; while, in the distance I could hear my Mom screaming at the swim instructors. Once I had finished coughing, I was immediately encouraged to jump off the diving board once again. The swim instructors told my Mom that it was important to do this right away to prevent me from being scared of the water for the rest of my childhood.
Little did anyone know that, even at the age of eight, nothing could keep me from wanting to be in the water. In fact, once I learned to float on my back I wanted nothing more than to stay afloat and stare at the sky (or the pool room’s ceiling) all day.
And then there’s this. Even though I don’t remember much about what happened after I was pulled out of the pool, I do remember how I felt underwater. Along with that calmness I felt, I remember loving the feeling of floating indefinitely; of complete utter freedom. It really wasn’t until I heard a swim instructor jump into the pool to rescue me and the pull of the hook around my waist that I started to feel scared.
There are nights where I still dream of that moment; where I feel that freedom and that endless tumbling and turning underwater. I can smell and feel the chlorinated water all around me. And these are the moments where I feel the most tranquil. Where I can recreate this inexplicable feeling of happiness.
It’s strange to think that the one recurrent happy dream I have is of drowning; of almost dying. How can a dream about possible death be something I find comfort in?
I want to relate this dream to my love of water; that love of floating freely in the water. In reality, it probably has more to do with the lack of complete control I have over the forces of water. And, as it relates to reality, this dream most likely relates to the lack of control I have experienced / am currently experiencing in life.
So how could a dream which reflects a lack of control in my life make me happy? It’s that love of complete utter freedom I felt back when I was eight years old. It’s knowing that despite the fact that things can be completely crazy in life … if I just sit back (or in this case float above water) and let go of those things I have no control over, then I can feel more relaxed and enjoy life around me.
I can simply just go with the flow.
One of my favorite “power ballads” of all time …